Reaching the end of any piece of work is satisfying, of course it is, but getting there might happen only a matter of minutes or hours after beginning.
Reaching the end of a novel is a very particular feeling.
Some time in the next day or two, and I’m hoping it will be today, but I have a very technical scene to write, so I expect it will actually be tomorrow, and, yes, I know that tomorrow is Saturday, and, strictly speaking, the weekend, but I don’t keep regular hours, as well you know... Some time in the next day or two I will type the final sentence of the novel I’m currently working on, and that will be that.
There will be plenty more to do. I will read the thing through and make small adjustments before sending it to my agent, and I might have one or more of my beta-readers do the same. Then, I’m sure my lovely agent will want some changes before she takes it out to into the World to try to sell it. Of course, if and when she does sell it, there will be the edits that the publisher wants. So, my putting the last sentence down some time in the next day or two really marks the beginning of something rather than the end.
This novel, like those that have gone before it, has been my constant companion and my total workload for a big chunk of time. I have thought of nothing else. It has occupied my desk and my desk-top, wholesale, for the duration, and, when it is done, I know that I will miss it. I will miss ironing out the wrinkles in the plot. I will miss finding locations and researching details. I will miss the characters and hearing their voices in my head, and I will miss watching them play together.
Of course, there is pleasure to be had in a job finished... in a job well done, even. Of course, there is elation. Of course, there is relief when the impossible is accomplished, because, heaven knows, I never truly believe that I can finish a novel when I begin one, however good the idea is, or however well-prepared I am.
There is something else, though, too. There is anti-climax. There is loss. There is that empty feeling. There is the certain knowledge that, once more, it is over, that, once more, there is nothing for it, but to begin again.
I’ve enjoyed writing this novel, and, while it is complete, while it constitutes a single story, and while it concludes, satisfactorily. I have left a tiny thread, a strand that I can tease out. This time there is room for more, because I simply cannot stand it any longer. I cannot stand to pack another box of toys away and hand them over to the charity shop for someone else to take so that I never get to see them or play with them again. This box of toys is going safely up in my attic, so that, if I get the chance, I can take them out, unwrap them and play with them again, some time in the future, in a new story.
I do hope I get the chance.